Getting Onto Galveston Island
If you have never been to Galveston and are not familiar with the area you may not realize Galveston is an island. There are two ways you can get onto the island. If you are coming from the Houston direction more than likely you will want to take take I-45 South which takes you directly into Galveston. The other way to come into Galveston is by ferry, which would be for people coming from the Bolivar Peninsula.
Once On The Island Getting To The Cruise Terminals:
Once you are in Galveston you may want to make your way to the cruise terminal, depending on the time of your arrival. If you are too early you may have to wait outside the cruise terminal, but make sure you give yourself plenty of time to park and check-in in order to avoid being late.
As you approach the cruise terminals, you will begin to see parking lots advertising their prices. I recommend doing research in advance to plan which lot to park in, but if you have not already purchased parking you will need to find a place to park. Some parking lots offer shuttle service and others offer a park-and-walk special that means you cannot use their shuttle because you accepted a discount rate. Again, I highly recommend doing parking lot research prior to cruising.
Pulling Into The Cruise Terminals:
The area around the cruise terminals can be congested, especially in the morning as debarking passengers are trying to leave and embarking passengers are arriving. Be patient and be prepared for a few slowdowns. However, in my experience from Galveston, I have never seen a total gridlock. Traffic does move, but it may just take a little bit of time. In order to have a safety net, give yourself extra time to get to the cruise terminal.
When you pull into the cruise terminal area, you will immediately see signage that will direct traffic based on which cruise terminal the people are going to. Cruise Terminal 1's traffic will stay to the right and cruise terminal #2's traffic will go to the left. Additional signage helps indicate which lanes are for passenger drop-off and which lanes are for shuttle buses to use. If you are arriving via a shuttle bus from a parking lot your driver will likely tell you where to go when you get off the cruise in order to be bused back to your parking lot.
Checking In Luggage: How does this generally work?
There are usually many porters around the cruise terminal ready to help cruisers check-in their luggage. If you are dropping off passengers, generally a porter will walk up to your car as you pull up and take your luggage. You will likely have to show your boarding pass (this has happened more times than not in my experience). Make sure to tip the porter!
If you arrive via shuttle bus or from a parking lot's shuttle, generally the porters are good about walking to buses to get luggage. In the event you cannot find a porter to give luggage to, ask a terminal employee working outside who you can give your luggage to.
NOTE: Make sure you check-in your luggage at the correct ship and cruise terminal. It would be awful to accidentally check-in your luggage at the wrong cruise terminal because it may get loaded onto the wrong ship if nobody notices.
Will I be able to go right into the cruise terminal when I arrive?
This greatly depends on your time of arrival and your cruise line's embarkation policies. I recommend finding out from your cruise line when you can begin checking in. Otherwise, you may be stuck outside waiting for the doors to the cruise terminal to open.